In the middle of California lies a wine country straight out of Tuscany. Livermore Valley, 30 miles east of San Francisco, offers 55 wineries to sample while enjoying gorgeous scenery and sunny weather. Settlers started populating the area during the gold rush and farmers and ranchers soon moved to the fertile area. Vineyards soon followed and high-quality wine became a mainstay of the area. On a recent visit to the area, I was hosted by Visit TriValley and three wonderful wineries. I hope to return to the area to bask in this enjoyable atmosphere and sample many more wines.
Livermore Valley Vineyards
The tasting room of the Wood Family Vineyards occupies an unassuming building on Research Drive in Livermore. Our group was escorted to the back room, which was lined with wood barrels stacked four high. Rhonda, the founder, and Harrison, her son, welcomed us and treated us to many stories about Rhonda's transition from flight attendant to winemaker. They answered all of our questions about the wines and the process of winemaking. My favorite was the Especial Cabernet Sauvignon. As we finished our tasting, a blues band started playing in the main tasting room for the many visitors that had gathered.
Wood Family Vineyard Tasting Room
At Las Positas Vineyards on Wetmore Road, the sun-bathed patio overlooks rolling fields. A metal tree of spiralling arms held each of our wine tastings from white to rose to red. My favorite was the Conspiratus IV, which paired wonderfully with three triangles of flourless chocolate cake covered in raspberry coulis, chili powdered sugar, or caramel and cashews. This family vineyard focuses on creating small batches of unique varietals.
Las Positas Vineyards Patio
The patio at McGrail Vineyards bustles with groups chatting and enjoying the wine. The McGrail's started planting grapes in 1999 and less than ten years later opened their own winery. It is still a family business with some of the wines named after their grandchildren. They specialize in cabernet and won the Best Red Wine in the United States at the SF Chronicle Wine Competition in 2012. The expansive view from the patio takes in the rolling hills of vineyards.
Many more wineries await my return to the TriValley. This area is easily reached from San Francisco and is well worth a visit for the wonderful climate and interesting wine.